Ted Kennedy: Champion of Early Care and Education

August 28, 2009

Senator Kennedy leaves behind a towering legacy of fighting for children’s healthy development: “Were it not for Kennedy’s unwavering commitment to improving the lot of young children, we likely would have far less federal support for young children’s development across the board,” said NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett.

Which leaves us all with the question: Where do we go from here? How can the vacuum in children’s advocacy be filled?

Read Sen. Kennedy’s Newsmaker interview with Preschool Matters earlier this year.

Alison Gopnik on Young Children’s Intelligence and the Role of Play

August 17, 2009

A fascinating piece in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine by Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik details recent studies showing that not only do children possess powerful learning abilities at very young ages but by their preschool years, they are capable of using probabilities to learn how things work. Findings such as these need to be cast in the context of how young children learn and Gopnik does an admirable job of pointing out the differences between optimal learning environments for young children and the goal-oriented environments kids encounter later in school.

Two recent NIEER briefs address points brought up by Gopnik’s piece. “Connecting Neurons, Concepts, and People: Brain Development and its Implications” summarizes what science tells us about young children’s brain development and corrects some of the common misunderstandings about it. “Math and Science in Preschool: Policies and Practice” reviews the research addressing development of math and science in preschool and makes recommendations for early education policy in these domains. Research by Gopnik, NIEER Scientific Advisory Board member Rochel Gelman and others is at least partly responsible for the recent emphasis on math and science in early education.

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